By Peter Lindblad
What do you specialize in?
Rich Rosen: Doo wop, R&B and soul, but after being in the business for over 40 years, you could say I specialize in every genre of music.
What was your first job?
RR: After leaving my one year in college, I started working on Wall Street as a margin clerk for Goodbody & Company. While I was doing that, I was also selling records on Wall Street. This was in the ’60s.
What was the first record you ever bought?
RR: I went to Time Square Records in Manhattan and found “Latin Love” by The Royal Tones on Old Town in their 10-cent pile. But actually, it goes back further.
When did the idea of owning your own record store first occur to you?
RR: I was managing record shops in Manhattan. After the fourth or fifth shop that I saw I was running everything, I decided why not do it for myself. So I started with mail order in Brooklyn and the rest is history.
What is the history of your store?
RR: I’ve been in business for 40 years or more. After doing mail order in New York for years, Wax Trax Records actually started in Stroudsburg, Pa., in the early ’80s. We eventually, in the late ’90s, moved the store to Las Vegas, N.V., and made it at least three times as big as it ever was on the East Coast.
Has the neighborhood where your store is located changed? Not really since the 10 years we’ve been here in Las Vegas.
How has the music retail market changed over the years? It’s become more specialized. Due to the economy, a little slower as far as business goes, but if you have your regular customers and they make their regular purchases, then you are blessed.
Have you noticed a resurgence in vinyl record sales? Definitely. We also carry a lot of the newer vinyl, which sells very well. But my store still caters mainly to the hard-core collector.
What does your store offer that few, if any, others do? Very rare original-label records. If you’re looking for a copy of “There’s A Moon Out Tonight” by The Capris on Planet, we have it. If you’re looking for a Beatles’ “Butcher Cover,” we have it. If you’re looking for the soundtrack to “Mr. Ed” … we have it!
What changes has the store gone through over the years? I’ve been getting older and my health is getting a little weaker, so my son is getting more and more involved. So that’s evolution. I hope it works for him.
Who are some of your favorite customers from over the years and why? My favorite customers are those customers that became friends as well as customers. So I’m going to shout out a few people — hope I don’t miss any. George, Russ, Jim, Tommy, Jon, Jerry, Romaine … the list could go on forever. Also, the late, great George Carlin was a very close friend and a record collector. It’s wonderful when you can bridge that gap and have some celebrities come in to relax and talk about music.
What was the biggest day the store ever had? Two Japanese guys came in and walked out with about 75 big boxes of records. That was a huge day.
Ever had anybody famous, besides George Carlin, come in and shop at your store? Craig Kallman from Atlantic Records, the No. 1 man. Little Anthony. Jimmy Castor. Ruth Brown. Joe Jackson. Sonny Turner [lead singer of The Platters during the 1960s]. Matt Dillon. And again, I can go on forever.
What’s the best part about being the owner of a record store and what’s the worst? The best part is when your regulars come in to hang out and talk records. The worst part is when your health is not good, and you have to sit in that chair and look happy.
What’s the rarest record you’ve ever had in your store? You won’t believe this but I’m going to tell you anyway. It is documented that I have the only original acetate of “Stormy Weather” by The Five Sharps.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer? A gentleman from India walks in, and he wants one of each of every possible music and motion-picture media (vinyl, eight-track, cassette, CD, DVD, VHS, etc.) to put up on a wall display.
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